Polar Bear Swim New Year’s Day Vancouver, White Rock, North Vancouver

Comments 2 by Rebecca Bollwitt

It was in 1920 that Peter Pantages created the Polar Bear Swim Club in Vancouver and the brisk ocean dip has been a New Year’s Day tradition for the last 96 years.

Peter Pantages on a snowy Vancouver beach in 1927. Archives# CVA 99-1786.

Polar Bear Swim Vancouver

The Vancouver Polar Bear Swim takes place at 2:30pm on the first day of each new year. Costumes and the Peter Pantages Memorial 100 yard swim race are the highlights of this event. To be a club member you must register before the swim, it’s free. Prizes are drawn from all registrations. Register in front of the English Bay Bathhouse between 12:30pm and 2:30pm on January 1. The Greater Vancouver Food Bank will be accepting donations of non-perishable food or cash.

Vancouver Polar Bear Swim 2011
New Year’s Day 1939 + 2011. Archives# CVA 371-836 + Photo credit: Michael KalusMichael Kalus Print

Around the 1950s, the participation was approximately 250 to 300 swimmers. Today, anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 swimmers participate (record to-date 2,550 in 2014) and 5,000 to 10,000 spectators come out to cheer them on.

Polar Bear Swim White Rock

The 46th annual Polar Bear Swim in White Rock will take place January 1, 2016 and will feature music, coffee, hot chocolate and hot dog vendors. Onsite registration opens at 11:00am, and swim begins at 12:00pm. Participants are encouraged to dress in costumes, and gather for the noon plunge at the legendary “white rock” just east of the White Rock Pier.

2013 Polar Bear Swim in White Rock, BC
Photo credit: Tyler Ingram on Flickr

Polar Bear Swim North Vancouver

Deep Cove Panorama Park hosts the annual Penguin Plunge on January 1st from 12:30pm to 3:00pm, with the plunge promptly taking place at 2:00pm. Enjoy live music, food and refreshments. Registration is free but donations are accepted, supporting North Shore Rescue.

2 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. George PajariThursday, December 31st, 2015 — 1:26pm PST

    2016 will also see the first “Bipolar Swim” at Ambleside Beach in West Vancouver (regn @11am, swim @noon). See you there!

    For those for whom a single polar bear swim is not enough, you might be able to squeeze in at least 3 (when I did it, it was White Rock @11, Port Moody @12, Deep Cove at @1pm, and English Bay @2:30pm — unfortunately some of these swims have changed their times so overlap in 2016).

  2. BarrySaturday, January 2nd, 2016 — 9:28pm PST

    I went to 2 of them in White Rock but no parking near the one in English bay so went home.

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